Category Archives: Android

Good news for Z3 Compact owners

There has been some rather good news for Z3 Compact (Z3C) owners the past couple of weeks. Firstly, Cyanogenmod started releasing nightly CM12 builds for the Z3C. But more importantly, a root exploit was released.

The thing that galled me most about the Z3 was that unlocking the bootloader permanently erased DRM keys which are required for some functionality. Usually this functionality is superfluous (I never intend to purchase any protected content from the Sony store), but in the case of the Z3C, erasing the DRM keys makes the camera worse in low light.

Unfortunately, unlocking the bootloader is required to install firmware from sources other than Sony, which means I can only do what Sony officially sanctions, unless I want to sacrifice camera performance.

I don’t believe I should have to make that choice.

This exploit restores the balance, but upgrading to Cyanogenmod while retaining the DRM keys is a fairly lengthy process:

  • Downgrade to an older, exploitable firmware version (before October 2014) with Flashtool
  • Run the giefroot root exploit
  • Backup the TA (trim area) partition with Backup TA (this saves the DRM keys so you can truly revert to stock)
  • Flash the rom of your choice, safe in the knowledge that it will always be possible to revert to factory condition!

Note that the DRM keys (probably Sony’s camera app as well) can’t be used with Cyanogenmod, so the camera will still be theoretically inferior to the stock Sony firmware. But this does allow me to revert to factory condition, or stick with firmware derived from Sony’s if I am not happy with the trade-off. Previously, this wouldn’t have been possible!

The Z3 is a great piece of hardware (read my brief review here), but Sony’s software and hostile DRM have been sore points. Now, I can finally have the phone I wanted (not to mention paid for).

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review


Flagship smart-phones have been getting progressively larger. My first high-end Android device was a Samsung/Google Nexus S, which was comparable to an iPhone 3GS in dimensions. By modern standards it is chunky, yet it remains a good tradeoff between screen size, pocketability, and handling.

The two phones I’ve owned since the Nexus S have had progressively larger screens – I went to a Galaxy SII, and then a Galaxy SIII. But I never wanted a larger device than the Nexus S, just a faster one.

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It’s nice to be right some times

Five short years ago I wrote an article about my desire for a Nokia N900. I was extremely enthusiastic about the device, which I saw as the future of computing and a sign of things to come. I also said:

Personally I think Linux usage overtaking Windows on personal computing devices is inevitable, and this is how it’s going to happen (although the capabilities of the N900 will have to move down to a much lower price point first). We’ll see if I’m right in 5-10 years time.

It’s now 4 years and 4 months later. I was right about Linux overtaking windows on personal computing devices, but I was wrong about how, and it happened far more quickly than I could have imagined.

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Nexus 7 jelly bean update brings home screen rotation


Brief post as I’m writing this on the device in question – an update to Jelly Bean (4.1.2) came through a few minutes ago. I think this is the slickest handling of screen rotation yet – effectively the layout is the same, the Android engineers simply moved the launcher and (the useless) search to the sides. This is a nice improvement for Nexus 7 owners.

Google’s new app policy seems a little… hypocritical

Google updated its Play Store policy recently, and the changes appear to be designed to reign in spam on its app store. One of the policies reads “Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the Store’s search results.”

Amusingly, the description for Google’s own Maps app contains a block of text which would do just that:

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Viber battery life – an update

My impromptu post about Viber gained a little more attention than I thought it would, prompting a discussion about battery usage and even attracting a response from the Viber development team.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it was never a proper review, just a highly subjective and unscientific personal impression of the app! My main complaint was and remains that it looks like an iPhone app (I probably should have complained about the purple colour while I was at it).

They did ask that I test the new version (2.1.2), released on October 12, 2011, so naturally I feel as though I should test it in the same fashion as before. That is to say, open Android’s battery life screen after Viber has run for a while and take a screenshot. :)
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